Mental Health Awareness Week – Mike’s Story

For Mental Health Awareness week our one2one family have been sharing their personal stories. Today, Yoga Teacher Mike shares his…..

I’m celebrating the end of two long hard years of training for my PGCE to teach in further education in dance. These past two years have been incredibly challenging and at times very lonely and soul destroying. I’ve felt not good enough, worthless and beyond tired.

As a Professional Dance Artist, I am a perfectionist and a pessimist. I doubt my abilities, always have. Always felt weaker than others, especially after a long history of bullying.

I have always been what I call an extroverted Introvert. I crave community and friendship but shy away from being myself. I was never good at being a ‘boy’. Bullied for liking My Little Pony, being sensitive, calm and wanting to dance. I remember being totally mesmerised by Michael Flatley and the River Dance when they first appeared on TV when I was about 5-7 years old. I always wanted to dance but never had the guts to ask. So, I turned to competitive gymnastics. Damn I was good but still worried about what people thought.

I later developed Anorexia aged 11 and this has been a constant battle of mine ever since. Combined with my diagnosis of an Under Active Thyroid at about 12 I become totally terrified of being fat. I was also bullied for having a gay relative which at the time I knew very little about and become sucicidal with all the hate I received. Discovering Ballet and Contemporary Dance at 16 was my first saviour. I needed to eat to maintain enough energy to move and explore. I found the courage to begin the journey to being myself.

Of course, dance has its own image problems and this prayed upon my Anorexia from time to time. Coming late to dance, I never felt good enough. But I worked my ass off and the feeling I had on stage was like no other. I still to this day can’t express how alive I feel when on stage. It’s magical.

Fast forward to 30 years of age. I can’t even pinpoint the reason why but I suddenly accepted that I preferred men to women. This was something I truly hid from myself. I experienced an assault at 18 and was very confused, not helped by all the bullying. But something inside released and I was finally able to breathe.

Yoga has periodically throughout been a life saver for me. Certainly within the last few years, it has truly allowed me to accept my self, my body and my soul. Now as a Yoga Teacher, I really feel more connected to my own body.

Now, at 36, a dancer, yoga teacher and a gay man, I finally feel free.

Always be yourself, never be afraid to talk about your feelings. I’ve cried so many times these past two years whilst completing my PGCE and I couldn’t have done it without support from my loved ones and knowing that I myself am enough.

Be you, be yourself and never be afraid to speak out for help.

Thank you for sharing Yoga Flow with Mike 

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